Amani Childrens Home

As part of climbing Kili, there was a fundraising aspect. I pimped it pretty hard - I'm pretty sure if you've been around the last few months you will have seen a post or two. Truth though, I didn't climb Kili to raise funds for a charity. I climbed it because it was an adventure that I was ready to tackle. Tacking on a charity seemed like a 'nice' thing to do, and everyone else was doing it, so I jumped on the band wagon, determined to raise more money that anyone else. That right there emphasises how very shallow I was about the whole thing. Sure, raising money for street kids is inherently a nice thing to do, but I didn't pick the charity. I didn't really check them out, other than to make sure they did more good than harm and were fiscally responsible. Mostly it was a competition to see who could raise the most. The children blurred into 'African street kids' without faces or names or personalities, mere stereotypes that I used to ease a donation out of someone. I could have been fundraising for anything really, and called it good.

Oh, how very silly I feel now.

We visited Amani on our last day in Africa and oh oh oh. There wasn't enough time - I could have spent days and weeks and months with these children. These gorgeous happy children who had names, and personalities and histories. Oh their histories, which were full of hardship and abuse and just generally shit. It astounds me, positively blows my mind to hear about their pasts, their difficulties and struggles and then to see them smile, to dance, to play. To see the effects of malnourishment, to see 15 year old girls that look like they're only 10, to see scars on the boys legs and hands and faces, and then to have them grin like I've given them the world because I took their photo, and they can see themselves on a little digital screen.

These children, they are precious.

And it's pretty clear to me now, that while before I was fundraising for a charity? Now I'm raising money for children's lives, for improved quality of life. For food, for safety and for education. For a FUTURE. Many many futures.

It's amazing how Amani works, reaching out to street kids, letting them know that there is a place for them if they want to come. A place where they know where their next meal is coming from. An amazing, traditionally Tanzanian meal (because keeping to their culture is important). They have classes in the center, for their kids that haven't sat their primary school exams. Taught in Swahili, in small numbers (6-10 a class), squishing two academic years into one to catch the kids up. They're taught english too, because secondary schools in Tanzania are taught in english, and if they're going to continue their schooling they need to have a decent understanding of it. And oh, so far they have a 100% primary school pass rate - isn't that amazing? That's apparently much much higher than the typical pass rate in a Tanzanian primary school.

The lady that was there to shepherd us was quite proud - most of the kids go on to secondary school outside the centre. Ones that show promise get a grant for private schooling. And recently? One of their Amani kids started studying at university. Isn't that phenomenal?

We spent the afternoon out in the yard, in the heat with the kids. Predominantly boys, which is a reflection of what it's like on the street. But there was a game of soccer, our guys against their guys. And woah buddy, what a game! It was a draw in the end, 4 all. But those kids definitely gave as good as they got.

There was dancing in a little pergola at the back of the yard. There was a radio, and they flicked between stations to find up beat songs to clap their hands to. Then there was all the photo taking, oh the photo taking! At first they were a bit shy, but soon they were asking me to take their pictures and of course I did. Even better was when I realised I could hand my camera off to them, and they'd take the photos for me. The delight! They were as happy to be behind the camera as they were in front of it. Those kids were amazing.

So there are many photos. This is a photo heavy post, and I make no apologies for it. Every single photo was taken with joy, and gave so much delight that I can't not share them. Also, this was a much reduced set from the original 600 shots that were taken that afternoon.

I'm still raising funds. I've met my goal to raise £1k, and as a group we smashed our target of £5k, but you know what? Every cent helps. It goes straight to Amani, and every pound we send is specifically allocated for the kids. To feeding them, and clothing them. Educating them. To providing moments of fun, a childhood. A worthy cause, I think, more so than I initially realised. So if you'd like to donate:

www.justgiving.com/ellyrarg